Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
“Three dark queens
Are born in a glen,
Sweet little triplets
Will never be friends
Three dark sisters
All fair to be seen,
Two to devour
And one to be Queen”
Three sisters. One crown. A fight to the death.
In every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.
But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose . . . it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins.
The last queen standing gets the crown.
Three Dark Crowns has had A++ advertising… Or maybe I’m just really new to this blogging thing, I don’t know.
So being the huge consumer I am, I was very excited for this one! And on Black Friday I found a great deal for the Arsinoe paperback cover on Amazon, so I knew I had to get it! There were three different covers, one for each queen, and I thought this was super cool…
I have the red one, and I think it’s gorgeous!
Now on to the actual book… The blurb feels like a mix of The Hunger Games and Throne of Glass, plus the main characters are triplets who have magical talents! From this, I expected epic battles and a lot of action. It sounds amazing, and it could have been amazing, but it just didn’t do it for me.
I think a list of pros and cons will make my point come across more clearly.
- Everyone wants this book, the marketing was really well done, from the three covers to the blog interviews and how approachable and sweet Kendare Blake is! She actually commented on my pic, which was a really amazing surprise.
- The writing is hard to get into at first, but I think it’s very unique and also creepy at some points, for example in Katharine’s parts. It cost me about 100 pages to get used to the present tense though, because it’s not very emotional.
- The ending sort of makes up for how slow the beginning was! It might be hard to start this book, but the last 100 pages or so are suddenly much better and quicker!
- The topic of love is explored in different ways and near the end I felt actually connected to the characters, which I hadn’t expected to be at the beginning. Also, I love the triplets’ complicated relationship.
- You might have picked this up from the pros, but the start is painfully slow – the thing is, since it’s divided into the stories of the three individual sisters, you don’t find yourself getting into any story because every 20 pages you’re switching! And the present tense it’s written in doesn’t help, it’s very cold for me.
- Fennbirn is a really cool setting, but I would have loved to know more about it. One of the great things of reading a fantasy books is learning about the world and jumping between the story and the map! I absolutely love some good world-building, and I think it was a bit lacking here. Hopefully in the second book we’ll learn more.
- The system isn’t defined very well either: this was surprising because it’s what the book is about! It seems a bit odd, because I did my math (impressive) and in the last 48 years, Fennbirn has only had a Queen for 16. Let me explain: if I took notes correctly, a Queen retires after having her set of triplets, and 16 years pass by until the next one is named. Plus, it says that this generation’s mother had Arsinoe, Katharine and Mirabella 16 years after being crowned. So, what is the point of having a Queen if she’s going to rule for so little? Also, what exactly does a Queen do? So many unanswered questions, which is why I’m reading the next book, One Dark Throne.
Okay, so after that mini rant I’m going to explore the characters, which is hard because there were SO MANY OF THEM.
We have the three queens, and they each have their adoptive family and friends.
- Arsinoe is the naturalist queen, so she stays with a family called the Milones in Wolf Spring. She has friends who are also important to the plot, Jules and Joseph, and they are one of the couples in this book. The thing with Arsinoe is that even if she’s supposed to be the naturalist, she doesn’t seem to have any kind of gift with nature.
- Katharine is the poisoner queen. Poisoners have ruled for centuries, so her family, the Arrons, stay in the capital city of Fennbirn, called Indrid Down. Just like Arsinoe, her gift is almost nonexistent and she can’t stomach the poisons she’s supposed to… which is a huge threat to her family.
- Mirabella is the elemental queen, and she is by far the stronger of the three. Her family are the Westwoods. In this book everyone is really religious, and the temple’s chosen queen has always been Mirabella – she is the only one who can prove her gift plus the priestesses think her family would be easier to control.
Since there were so many, it was hard to have favorites because we spent very little time with each of them. But I still did 😉 Mirabella was my favorite queen, because of her secret weakness, that is, love! I thought it was very interesting.
There is not much more to say. This book disappointed me slightly, because I had very high hopes. But I don’t regret reading it, and I look forward to the publishing of One Dark Throne.
I think a lot of people will not finish this book – I cannot blame them. It was very attractive but it really didn’t deliver. Still, I am committed to finishing this series and will buy the second book when it comes out.
If you check my rating system, you can see that 2 stars means that it wasn’t that bad, but I struggled with some aspects. So it’s not a bad rating, but I don’t highly recommend reading it.
The most important thing that I believe I need to highlight is that while the beginning is hard and maybe even slightly boring, the ending is brilliant and there is an amazing improvement as the book progresses.